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Stock Camera App vs. ZoomFX App: Low Light Conditions (Pics)
One of the complaints about the Maxx HD is the camera. I find it to be pretty good in normally lighted conditions and I'm quite pleased with it. It does have a weakness at lower light levels (which cell phone camera doesn't?) Many people have suggested the Camera ZoomFX app will improve photos taken with the Maxx HD. To test it, I bought it yesterday (on sale $1.49) and have been playing around with it. It does have some nice options that the stock camera app does not have, like white balance adjustments, light metering adjustments, steady shot, and several more shot modes. You can also assign functions to hardware buttons. Strangely, there is no direct exposure control, you must assign the exposure function to a hardware action.
Right away I found the ZoomFX app to be inconsistently responsive to screen taps. That is, I would find myself tapping an option 3, 4, 5 times before I could get it to engage. Tapping on photos in the ZoomFX gallery was literally hit or miss, sometimes tapping several times to get the app to display the desired photo. This was quite annoying and reason enough for me to not use the app. I found that ZoomFX is generally slower than the stock app in just about everything. Slower to open, slower to take shots, slower to navigate, etc. Needing to tap 2, 3, 4 times to change a setting is not a good thing either. So far I was wondering what all the ballyhoo was about.
What about the quality of the photos? Judge for yourself.
First shot is in regular light, partly sunny day with everything on auto and exposure set to +1. Note: Motorola's exposure goes from -2 to +2; whereas ZoomFX goes from -8 to +8. I think ZoomFX simply divides the exposure control into smaller chunks. I think the Motorola shot looks much better but it could be that I should have had ZoomFX exposure at +4 instead of +1 because of the aforementioned disparity in division of the exposure gradients. BTW, the wall is painted white and the sheet of paper is also white--don't know why the paper has a pink hue to it. Automatic white balance not adjusted correctly?
The next shots are of a Christmas tree with a 60 watt table lamp on behind me. The ZoomFX shot looks brighter than the Moto shot. However, I can tell you that the ZoomFX shot has a yellowish tint to it. Look at the wall above the drapery rod or the wall below the window (by the boxing toy). That is not supposed to be yellowish tinted. Also, that piece of drapery in the far left edge of the shot appears yellow. In fact, the drapes are creme colored. The ZoomFX shot looks brighter and first impressions are that it therefore looks 'better' but the color is inaccurate.
Next I took shots in a totally dark room with only the Christmas tree lighting for room lighting. Again the ZoomFX shot is overdriven with yellow tint. I can tell you that the Moto shot is the more accurate shot, for both lighting levels and color accuracy. On both shots the details of the Christmas tree are pretty much lost, no definition of needles, hard to see the ornaments.
Finally, I took shots in a totally dark room, only Christmas tree lights with Motorola at exposure +2 and ZoomFX in Night Mode and Night Shot On. The ZoomFX shot is a mess. Orange tint, overly lit, the lights on the tree look like they are bleeding. The Moto shot is more accurate as to actual lighting and color, but looks 'worse'. On the plus side for the ZoomFX shot, there is less noise. Look at the area below the end table and compare noise in the photos. To be honest, I can't see any difference between the ZoomFX darkened room pic in auto setting vs. darkened room pic in Night Mode and Night Shot On. Can you?
In conclusion, I think I'll stick to the Motorola stock camera app. It's faster, more responsive, and gives more accurate results, if with a bit more noise in low light shots. Also, I really like the Jelly Bean feature of reviewing photos in filmstrip mode and swiping them away to delete them. I wish the Moto stock app had the steady shot option. I bet that would be really helpful. If anybody has extensive experience with ZoomFX and would like to give me some pointers on how to use it to its potential, I'd like to hear. But I don't see how any pointers could fix the color inaccuracies.